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Metrics in biodiversity conservation and the value-free ideal

Bocchi, Federica (2024) Metrics in biodiversity conservation and the value-free ideal. Synthese, 203 (145).


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This paper examines one aspect of the legacy of the Value-Free Ideal in conserva-tion science: the view that measurements and metrics are value-free epistemic toolsdetached from ideological, ethical, social, and, generally, non-epistemic consider-ations. Contrary to this view, I will argue that traditional measurement practicesentrenched in conservation are in fact permeated with non-epistemic values. I challengethe received view by revealing three non-epistemic assumptions underlying traditionalmetrics: (1) a human-environment demarcation, (2) the desirability of a people-freelandscape, and (3) the exclusion of cultural diversity from biodiversity. I also drawa connection between arguments for retaining traditional metrics to “scientific colo-nialism,” exemplified by a fortress conservation model. I conclude by advocating forabandoning the myth of the intrinsic value-freedom of measurement practices andembracing metrics aligned with societal and scientific goals.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Bocchi, Federicafederica.bocchi@ind.ku.dk0000-0002-9456-5920
Keywords: Value-free ideal · Biodiversity conservation · Critical metrology ·Scientific colonialism
Depositing User: Federica Federica Bocchi
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2024 00:25
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2024 00:25
Item ID: 23338
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: April 2024
Volume: 203
Number: 145

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